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Climate Change and Urban Water Supply

Updated: Jan 9

By Md. Saiful Islam, Young Climate Activist and YECAP Fellow from Bangladesh

Captured by Jeff Ackley


Rapid changes in the hydro-environment on many scales, such as those of climate and land-cove, are causing a rising water shortage in urban centers of emerging nations. Unsafe drinking water access already has an impact on one-third of Africa's urban population. It is anticipated that climate change will make Africa's ongoing water shortage worse.


In Africa, a very major threat to human life is water shortage. Waterborne infections are made worse and the quality and quantity of fresh water accessible for household use in African metropolitan areas drop when rainfall decreases due to the concentration of sewage and industrial effluents in the water.


Due to climate change, it is anticipated that between 350 million and 600 million people will face greater water stress by 2050. Across big river basins in particular, climate change is predicted to reduce freshwater supply in Central, South, ast, and Southeast Asia.


Conflict may worsen as a result of a loss of access to food and water. As communities that have previously survived times of drought and food shortages face an unprecedented famine, there are territorial disputes over diminishing water sources, as well as an upsurge in cattle rustling and violence.


The Tigris, Euphrates, Indus, and Brahmaputra are among Asia's largest rivers, and the New Economics Foundation projects that their levels will decline by as much as a quarter as a result of climate change. The Himalayan glaciers have already shrunk by 67% since 1990, and in the near future, more summer glacial melt may amplify summer river flow and floods. If freshwater supplies run out, the trend of glacier retreat and decreased rainfall, together with Asia's expanding urbanization and higher per capita water needs, might have disastrous effects.


Rainwater is the primary source of drinking water and irrigation supplies in metropolitan areas of many tiny island republics. Droughts have been experienced in Papua New Guinea, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Fiji as a result of altered rainfall patterns brought on by climate change. Water shortages have also affected the Cook Islands, Tuvalu, and Kiribati. Freshwater underground reservoirs are also at risk. In many atoll nations, a small layer of fresh groundwater rests on top of the saltwater and provides irrigation and drinking water. The threat to these reserves comes from declining precipitation rates and increasing sea levels.

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